David DeJesus, Senior VP of Human Resources, Southcoast Health System

Southcoast employs 7000 people in our three hospitals, St. Lukes, Charlton and Tobey, plus 25 other locations in the region. We employ people throughout the employment spectrum, from those needing a high school education, to those needing associate degrees, bachelors and masters degrees, to doctors. We continue to see demands for our services as our population ages.

One of our significant challenges is in finding people who are qualified for our positions that require college level education. We have strong partnerships with UMass Dartmouth and Bristol Community College, however this region is undeserved in terms of healthcare degree programs.

The nursing programs at BCC and UMass have waiting lists. There is no program in this region for physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, pharmacy, or radiology.

The health care industry is a major economic driver for the state of Massachusetts yet there is no coordinated state wide plan for providing educational opportunities for its citizens for these jobs that have been and will be in short supply for the near future and continuing thereafter.

As a result of our continuing need, we develop our current staff, we recruit staff from outside of the area, and Southcoast has invested in developing our workforce locally. For our current staff, we spend approximately $500,000 in college tuition courses. We have internal training programs available to our staff to develop their skills. Locally, we have had a school to career program for more than 15 years. This program engages students and faculty in programs such as internships, job shadowing, career days, tours, and other material explaining various health care careers. I have served on the WIB for more than 12 years, most recently as chair for three years.

The WIB has partnered with us to provide critical grant funded programs to meet our continuing needs. Training grants such as the workforce training fund, workforce competitive fund, extended care ladder initiative, and nursing career ladder initiative have been of great assistance. We are presently developing a regional consortia of health care employers to develop skills training programs for health care jobs in Southeastern Mass. Southcoast Health System is committed to developing our workforce and working with local and state agencies to develop the local workforce, so that we can continue to provide critically needed health care services to the residents of Southeastern Massachusetts.
— David DeJesus, Senior VP of Human Resources, Southcoast Health System